SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A Rio Arriba County man has been granted a new trial for charges stemming from a 2011 crash in which he’s accused of drunkenly killing a motorcyclist with his truck.
On Memorial Day 2011, motorcyclist Mark Wolfe was with a group of biker friends when the deadly crash happened. Rio Arriba County Sheriff’s deputies, at the time, said Juan de Dios Cordova was to blame.
The truck involved was found abandoned close to the crash scene, but Cordova was found in his home by RACSO deputies who say he was drunk.
In 2013, Cordova was convicted and sentenced for the aggravated DWI, vehicular homicide and other crimes, given 29 years behind bars.
But now, he’s getting a second chance to argue his case before a jury.
“Jury selection will be February 14, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. at the Rio Arriba County Courthouse,” a court official announced in Santa Fe District Court Wednesday.
Last summer, a court of appeals agreed with Cordova when he argued his fourth amendment rights were violated the night he was arrested because the deputies let themselves into his home without legal justification.
The State Supreme Court has since upheld the Court of Appeals ruling. Cordova, while now considered innocent until proven guilty of his initial charges, has been in custody on a $100,000 cash-only bond. But on Wednesday, when his new trial date was set, the judge lowered that bond to $25,000.
“It’s like being back at the beginning of this all over again,” Debby Hill, Wolfe’s Widow, said. “People shouldn’t go through what we’ve been through…it’s just unjust.”
The entire case has been extremely controversial from the start. Less than a year after the crash, State Police conducted an outside investigation and determined RACSO deputies botched the case when they allowed the truck involved in the deadly crash to be destroyed by a tow company. Evidence from inside, like DNA that could or couldn’t place Cordova as the driver was gone.
There were also issues with how long it took to draw Cordova’s blood after he was arrested, as well as confusion about who wrote the initial police report. Notably, Cordova is the brother of a former RACSO Sheriff.
Hill was visibly upset in court to hear Cordova’s bond lowered, and told KRQE News 13 she is hopeful that he won’t be able to put up the money to bond out. She says she considers him a threat to New Mexicans.
Judge Mary Marlowe Sommers called Cordova a danger to the public. She said if he bonds out, he will be on house arrest and has to wear a monitor that tracks his alcohol consumption.